Last Friday, I became more or less incidentally, but fortunately, a book in a living library. What does this actually mean though? Before I experienced it first-hand, I had no idea myself. A day before, our coordinator told me that the organizers of the Living Library were missing one book, and asked me if I was interested in becoming a substitute. As I had only faintly heard before that this concept was a strong tool in human rights education, I thought it was a good opportunity now to learn more about it. So the idea behind Living Libraries is the following: people act as book, they tell their story, others listen to it, and after some time the story finishes and the book is returned to the library. Telling a story is, among other things, a means to confront people with their prejudices and stereotypes, whether it is about homosexuality, disabilities, depression or addictions – or any other topic people tend to be silent about. Continue reading
Last week I had my first experience as a living book in the first living library ever organised in Banská Bystrica. Before going in the details, perhaps it would be better to explain briefly what a living library is.
A living library is a meeting among books (people who want to share their stories) and readers (people who want to listen to those stories), moderated by a librarian. During the meeting, that can concern a specific topic or not, the books tell their stories and the readers listen. Of course it is not a monologue, as the readers can ask questions and say what they think.
The living library I took part to was organised by Amnesty International. It took place on Friday 22 February in the school Gymnázium Andreja Sládkoviča and it mostly tackled the topic of LGBT. During the meeting there were 3 books and about 30 readers among the students of the school.
On this occasion I decided to address the issue of homophobia by telling the story of a friend of mine who is still fighting against this form of prejudice.
I really enjoyed this experience for many reasons. First of all, I had the opportunity to speak about a topic which is for me extremely important and quite controversial. Discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual or transexual people is a big problem in my country, but I have the impression that also in Slovakia there is a long way to go. In my opinion to win this battle, the members of the communities directly concerned should not fight alone, as also the rest of the society has to be involved.
Secondly, I was happy to meet the other books. It is a shame that I couldn’t “read” them properly, but I hope we’ll have other opportunities 🙂
Last but not least, I had the opportunity to make a lot of practise with my Slovak. Sometimes I guess it was a bit hard to understand me (one of the “readers” told me that I have a Russian accent 🙂 ), as sometimes I don’t use the correct word. The funniest moment was when I wanted to say that somebody had been beaten, which in Slovak is zbiť, but I ended up saying that he was killed, in Slovak zabiť 🙂 How 1 single letter can change the whole meaning!
I was really happy to chat with the students, even though I would have been even happier to have a longer discussion with them to know what they think and how they perceive this topic.
So thanks Zuzana, Juraj and Rado from Amnesty International for this great experience!
This weekend a very special event will take place in Banská Bystrica: the film festival Inakosť, an opportunity to watch very good films about LGBTI rights, an extremely important and topical subject. Here you can find the program of the festival.
Since I attach a lot of importance to this topic, I’ll also take part as a living book to the living library organised by Amnesty International BB on Friday 22 February in Gymnázium Andreja Sládkoviča for this special occasion. Here you can find more information on the living library.